We were so smitten with the newly-enhanced Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve on Saturday that we returned on Sunday. It would have been a pity if we wasted a warm, sunny weekend driving 3 hours to a mountain trailhead when this hidden gem needed exploring. When we arrived, the area was teeming with bikers, runners, families with strollers, and bird-watchers.

NOTE: While the hand-drawn map in the main parking lot (there are 4 access points to this preserve) is amusing the QR link to this helpful companion is worth downloading.

The trail system on Mohawk River clamored with reminders of its industrial engineering marvel, the Erie Canal. After parking, we began the hike by crossing the rustic Whipple Truss Bridge. Built in 1862, the National Registry landmark, used to be a common sight when the Canalway operated at its peak.

On Saturday, we followed the white-marked Forts Ferry Loop, undoubtedly one of the wettest heritage trails in the preserve. Seasonal flooding happens this time of year. Pet waste was plentiful on this path otherwise, it was an easy walk past interesting finds like this marker:

The trail improved with the green-marked Tall Spruce Trail where giant conifers dropped their soft needles and pine cones to the ground. Minutes later, a devastating dead-tree zone undoubtedly caused by repeated flooding. Beavers live here but couldn’t have caused this much damage.

Once we hit the yellow Erie Canal Towpath Connector Trail, we migrated a few more steps to the historic Lock 19 footbridge. Clean up and restoration was so extensive here that the stones sparkled! We sat on the observation platform enjoying lunch.

The return trip on the Towpath passed timeless Greek Revival farmhouses and barns honoring the canal’s history.

On Sunday, we stuck to the transformative Towpath, my jogging eastward with my toy poodle and my Mom lagging behind with our rescue mutt. We passed Clute’s Dry Dock and nearly made it all the way to the Twin Bridges. It was such a pleasure to exercise without fear of street traffic or icy puddles.

The Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve is not to be confused with the crown jewel Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail. The Bike Trail runs along the southern banks of the Mohawk River while the trails at the Preserve run along the northside.

Following our fitness, we jumped in our cars and headed to the pet-friendly Vischer Ferry General Store on Riverview Road. But, that history lesson will have to be continued in my next blog. My freelance biz, PilotGirl Productions, needs my attention too!

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